Time heals nothing. Regeneration is what heals.
There is a common cliche in our culture. That time heals all. I do not believe this is true. In fact I think that this could be a destructive belief.
Processing and regeneration is what heals. These things take time, but they are not time itself.
Someone may suffer a traumatic incident. They could spend the next ten years moving from one distraction to another. In those ten years they might do no purposeful processing whatsoever.
We need to let our healing functions regenerate us. But to do nothing is frowned upon in productivity-obsessed society. You always have to be active, out-there, doing-something, between-jobs, saving-a-species, on-the-hunt, success-seeking. This busy-ness is not always out of choice – in capitalist society these things are done out of necessity as the anxieties of destitution hang above us. Hours spent lying asleep are viewed as excess, days spent idle are seen as wasted , the content of dreams discarded as trivia. Stillness is seen as wastefulness.
But this means we are denying our fundamental regeneration systems the opportunity they need to heal. The long periods spent doing nothing are essential to the somethings. This is especially true when you have to live with disability.
Of course, it is good to be active and to strive for things. I would not give up my life’s work for anything of this world. To do literally nothing would be the end of me. But the something should be done with the wisdom of the body in mind. The prudence of the body gives us our boundaries. We human beings are unique in that the capacity of our bodies can be overruled by the dreams of our minds. When we overstep our capacities too far, we deny regeneration a chance to recover us, and this is when we fall the hardest.
In the background of our lives, beneath the awareness of consciousness there are regenerative processes functioning. Psychic wounds are being healed, knitted back together by slow and purposeful creatures of the psyche; the healing forces of nature, insectoid and fungal, breaking down, recycling, processing. In stillness, they thrive. They must be given the time and space to do their work.
There is no all-heal. Life leaves its scars upon us. If we could erase our traumas or histories we would be destroying part of ourselves, not healing.
And of course, life ends with death – something we have no cure for. So to say anything can completely ‘cure us’ would be naive – old wounds leave scars, new wounds are always a possibility. But as much as we can heal, grow and understand ourselves, we should. Just because suffering is inevitable, it does not mean that it cannot be minimized or dealt with in a mature way.
I am glad I have been indulgent and given myself as many ‘years off’ as I have. I will take as many more years off as I need to, working on my own projects in my own time, with prudence and patience.
And certainly without guilt.
You can run a thousand miles and end up going nowhere. Or, you can take one step in the right direction and make more progress in that one moment than some people will make in a lifetime.